Journalists and editors are busy people and have many items competing for their time and attention. Thus, the first step for effective media advisories and press releases is to make sure your media advisory or press release gets attention. Newsrooms receive a great many of these documents every day, and most get 10 seconds or so of consideration before they either a) go in the trash/get deleted; or b) get set aside for follow-up.
Media advisories are the journalistic equivalent of an “invitation” to follow-up or cover a potential story, usually an event where you’d like media coverage. Media advisories contain your direct contact information and include a brief summary of the “who, what, why, and when” of the event. In addition, it’s often a good idea to explain where or when you’ll be available if the media wants to interview you.
Press releases are actual news stories. It contains enough information to appear in print or online without any changes. Many smaller newspapers will print press releases exactly as they are written. Other times, however, a press release will prompt a reporter to follow-up and do their own story on the topic.
Some quick tips:
- Keep media advisories and press releases short and to the point.
- Always include your contact information.
- “###” at the bottom of the document means “that’s the end.”
- Send media advisories out a few days in advance of the event. Call or email to make sure the advisory was received.
- Press releases can be sent with a follow-up phone call or email a day or two later to see if the journalist is interested in the story. Try being low-key and helpful; don’t “beg” for coverage, though be sure to gently sell the story/event.
- The day of an event, make sure to call to follow up again and persuade the media to cover your event.
- Persistence in following-up is key; it can be the difference in determining whether an event receives news coverage or not.